Fisher Tests Speedway

The attached article was originally published in the May 22, 1909 Indianapolis Star and reports on the very first lap taken by an automobile at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The man at the wheel was Speedway Founder and President Carl G. Fisher who drove a Stoddard-Dayton, one of the automobile brands sold at his dealership - the Fisher Automobile Company - and a future pace car of the Indianapolis 500. Check out an image of the event elsewhere on First Super Speedway.
The occasion took place during the construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and just prior to its initial competitive sports event, the 1909 Aero Club of America national championship race. A 15-ton steam roller was being used to pack the running surface and "a colony" of construction workers who camped at the track and were ready to lay the coating of asphatum oils or "gum" and crushed limestone in one of the corners.
The banking on the turns were seen as amazingly steep and the paper reported, "the embankments are so steep they that it is dangerous to drive at a slow rate." Observers in the know were convinced the design would sustain unlimited speed: "When the fast, high-powered cars whirl around these turns, with the great bursts of flame belching from their iron throats, it will not be necessary to hold them in reserve as the track appears capable of maintaining the highest speed that it is possible for an automobile to attain."
The article also reports on the progress of other features of the facility. The fence encircling the grounds was erected and painted white. This included observation platforms at regular intervals on which police would perch themselves to maintain order. What is described as 25 "bulletin boards" were in place and these were almost certainly scoreboards to update fans on the progress of racing contests.
Plans called for grass to be sown outside the corners but the grounds were reportedly already covered with lush green clover. Thousands of small trees had been planted and were in spring bloom. All of this blended nicely with the uniform white with green trim of the buildings sprouting up on the grounds.
Among those buildings was an aerodrome designed to house the balloons and other equipment associated with the June 5, 1909 national balloon championship. Speedway management envisioned the track as not just a center for auto and motorcycle racing but aviation events as well.

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